Thai protesters continue calls for PM to step down

Friday 13 December 2013 20.53
Thai protesters have wrapped Bangkok's Government House with a massive national flag
Thai protesters have wrapped Bangkok's Government House with a massive national flag

Thai protesters have wrapped Bangkok's Government House with a massive national flag in their continued calls for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down.

Suthep Thaugsuban, the leader of a protest group trying to overthrow Thailand's government and scrap planned elections said the prime minister should either step down or be forced out.

He said his movement would then need around a year to push through reforms.

Prime Minister Yingluck has called an election for 2 February in an effort to end the street protests.

However, Mr Suthep, a veteran politician who resigned from parliament to lead the protests, has rejected the move.

"We will launch a campaign calling people not to accept the election on February 2.

"The election needs to be postponed until the reform is finished, because the same style of election will follow with the same outcome," he said.
 
Knowing that allies of Ms Yingluck's brother, ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, would probably win any election, he wants an unelected "people's council" to run the country.

Speaking at an event to present his ideas to the media, Mr Suthep said he would meet military chiefs tomorrow to discuss his strategy.

He rejected any idea of cutting a deal with Ms Yingluck, who heads a caretaker government now that the king has endorsed the election date.

She will hold a forum on Sunday to discuss reforms but says they can only be drawn up and implemented after the election.

Mr Suthep said he is not convinced by Ms Yingluck's proposal.

"Yingluck Shinawatra has mentioned the reform forum hosted by the government, it is not new at all. Yingluck has set up many reform forums but it never succeeds", he said. 

Thailand's eight-year political conflict centres on Mr Thaksin, a former telecommunications tycoon popular among the rural poor because of policies pursued when he was in power and carried on by governments allied to him when he was ousted.
 
Mr Thaksin, who lives in self-imposed exile to escape a jail sentence for abuse of power, gained an unassailable mandate that he used to advance the interests of big companies, including his own.

He has dismissed the graft charges as politically motivated. 

Ranged against him is a royalist establishment that feels threatened by his rise and, in the past, the military.

Some academics see him as a corrupt rights abuser, while the urban middle class resent what they see as their taxes being spent on wasteful populist policies that amount to vote-buying. 

They see Ms Yingluck as the puppet of Mr Thaksin, who is thought to determine government policy and has been known to address cabinet meetings by Skype. 

Keywords: thailand